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Living Kidney Donation

Living with 1 Kidney

How will having only 1 kidney affect me?

You can live the rest of your life with 1 kidney. Most donors say that their health didn’t change after the operation. Research shows us that having only 1 kidney can affect a person’s overall health.

Below are some health issues people with only 1 kidney can have after donating a kidney:

  • High blood pressure – There is a very slight increased risk to develop high blood pressure. This would happen over time.
  • Protein in the urine – Protein isn’t normally found in the urine, but after a donation, this can happen over time and usually doesn’t need to be treated.
  • Decrease in kidney function – Even though you’ve donated 1 kidney, the remaining kidney will increase how much it works. Your total loss of kidney function is only about 30%. This is enough to live a normal life.
  • Kidney failure – New research shows that a living donor may have a slightly higher risk of developing kidney failure over their lifetime.

The living donor team will talk with you about these risks during your living donor evaluation.

Can I still get pregnant or father a child if I donate a kidney?

There is no research evidence to show that donating your kidney affects your ability to get pregnant or father a child. If you‘ve just had a baby and want to donate a kidney, you’ll usually have to wait 1 year after your pregnancy to donate.

We recommend that women not get pregnant for 6 months to 1 year after donation. This lets your body fully recover from the major surgery.

Pregnancy does affect the kidneys and having only 1 kidney means you’ll need to be watched carefully for any problems. You are at a slightly higher risk of having protein in the urine (proteinuria) and high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) during pregnancy after donating a kidney. These conditions usually need treatment with medication. If you become pregnant after you have donated a kidney we strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor right away. They’ll work with you to carefully watch your kidney function during your pregnancy.

What if my donated kidney doesn’t work properly?

Most kidney transplants from living donors are successful. The chances are very good that your gift of a kidney will give the recipient a healthier life.

Sometimes the donated kidney may not work well because of technical problems during surgery. This could be a urine leak, a kink in the ureter, or a block in the blood flow. Sometimes the donated kidney is rejected by the recipient’s body. These can happen within days of the transplant or years later. It can happen even though all the tests during the evaluation went well and didn’t show any problems.

If the donated kidney doesn’t work properly or is rejected, the recipient still has options. They can go back to dialysis or can choose to try another transplant.​​​​​

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